Interview with C. E. Laureano:
1. How did the Song of Seare Trilogy come about?
I’m a longtime fantasy reader, starting as a child with the Chronicles of
Narnia and The Hobbit, but this particular series began with a single premise:
what happens when you have a young man who is raised to rule, but his personal,
religious, and philosophical beliefs are different than the country over which
he’s meant to reign? The story went through a number of iterations. In the
early drafts, Conor was already in his twenties and about to take the throne of
Tigh. But I realized that the real story began much earlier, where those
personal beliefs were formed: his fosterage with a rival king. As I dug into
the story, I realized that Conor was only a small part— or maybe the
culmination—of a generations-long struggle that has at last come to a breaking
point. And so the final storyline of the Song of Seare trilogy was conceived.
Why Celtic fantasy?
I’ve been interested in Ireland
for as long as I can remember, maybe because of my distant Irish heritage. I
had the opportunity to travel there during college, and I’ve never felt such an
instant affinity for a place. While America will likely always be the place I
“hang my hat”, I realized that Ireland was my heart’s home. Ever since then,
I’ve written Irish characters and settings. But it was only when I started
reading books by Juliet Marillier—wonderful historical fantasies that showed
the pagan/Christian conflict from the pagan point of view—I knew I wanted to do
something similar with a Christian slant.
How much is based on history and how much was
The culture of Seare is very much based on ancient Ireland before the
10th century, but since relatively little is known about that time period, much
of it is extrapolated from research done in the 1920’s. (Some of that research,
like the idea that the Irish wore kilts, has since been disproven.) But the
food, weaponry, law, and social structure of Seare is very similar to how
things might have been in ancient Ireland. Of course, the addition of magic
changes things, so I got to imagine how the existence of supernatural gifts and
blood magic might have affected their culture. I also re-envisioned the faerie
mythology from a neutral, mischievous role into something more malevolent.
What kind of research did you do to write this
I have a fairly extensive library
on Irish history, and what I wasn’t able to buy, I checked out from the library
(thank goodness for inter-library loan…some of my books came all the way from
Nebraska.) Because Seare was united by a man who had been a mercenary in the Holy
Land, I also did a lot of research on the Near East and the Roman Empire from
that time period. You’ll see traces of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Greco-Roman
influence in the Fíréin brotherhood, especially their fighting and training
styles. I also used my background as a martial artist and fencer to create a
fighting style that was believably cross-cultural.
Why did you choose to write
I didn’t start out to write
fantasy for the Christian market. I’d originally envisioned the series as
having a Christian worldview but little overt religion. However, the coming of
Christianity so heavily influenced the history of Ireland, removing it left my
society feeling flat and unrealistic. Not to mention that I quickly found out Conor
wasn’t happy without a wider perspective and deeper goals than just bringing
peace or winning the throne. The spiritual thread came along organically and
tied the story together.
Who is your favorite character and why?
That’s almost an impossible choice,
but I’d have to say Conor, my primary hero. He’s definitely the one I find most
personally relatable. He knows he was created for something greater, but he
doesn’t always make the right decisions—he lets his emotions sway his thinking
and he lets down the people who depend on him—but he always comes through in
the end. In that way, he’s something of a Biblical hero than a superhero…David
was described as a man after God’s own heart, but he still did some seriously
What do you hope readers will take away from
I didn’t want to write a “safe”
story where you know that everything is going to be okay and everyone will come
out unharmed—because real life isn’t like that. It can be scary and messy and
unpredictable. But through it all, if you look hard enough, is the ever-present
thread of God’s grace and provision. My greatest wish is that readers come away
with the understanding that they have a purpose, that they matter, that God
cares for them as individuals and not just as a face in the crowd. I’ll
consider my job done if readers walk away with hope. 8. If you could spend a
day with one of your characters, who would it be? Aine…because it guarantees
that I would also get to spend time with Conor and Eoghan! After all, one or the
other is always shadowing her. Plus, she just seems like the type of person I’d
like to hang out with: practical, no nonsense, and filled with interesting
knowledge. She’s also the one you want around if you’re going to do something
dangerous—her healing ability would come in handy!
What do you think makes a book Christian or not?
Christian authors can’t help but create a world that reflects our beliefs
in some way. Sometimes, it’s an overt parallel to historical Christianity as it
is in the Song of Seare. Sometimes, it’s the presence of the values that we
learn from the Bible: faith, love, hope, loyalty, perseverance. Even if God
isn’t mentioned by name, if you look closely, you’ll often find Him there.
Who are your fantasy writing inspirations?
My two direct inspirations for this series are Guy Gavriel Kay and Juliet
Marillier, both of whom write lovely historical fantasy. But I also enjoy Karen
Hancock, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Jordan, David Farland, C.J. Cherryh…the list
What’s on your bookshelf/e-reader?
reading habits are rather eclectic, so you’ll find everything from non-fiction,
biographies, and spiritual memoirs to romance, steampunk, literary fiction, and
fantasy. Some of my current favorites are Patrick Carr, Mary Weber, A.G.
Howard, Billy Coffey, and Susanna Kearsley. But I have at least a dozen paperbacks
waiting to be read and hundreds on my e-reader. There’s just not enough time to
consume all the wonderful books I come across. Not to mention all the research
books I keep around to spark ideas for new projects.
Thank you Tyndale for providing these insightful questions with answers from C. E. Laureano, so the readers can learn more about her and her writing process.